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Smishing scams

August 16, 2018 | Security

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Text messaging has come under attack as one of the most vulnerable mediums for identity theft and more. Here’s what you need to know about an SMS message-based scam called “smishing.”

How it works
Smishing scams use text messages to establish contact with the intended victim to later access their personal information. The scam begins with a supposedly urgent text appearing to be from the victim’s financial institution. The text may claim that the victim’s checking account is locked, or that there has been an unauthorized purchase charged to the victim’s account. The scammer will warn that immediate action must be taken.

The victim is then instructed to call a specified number and, upon doing so, will be asked to share their financial information. Once they’ve got their hands on this info, the scammer is free to steal the victim’s identity, empty their accounts or go on a shopping spree on the victim’s dime.

Who are the victims?
Smishing scams primarily target people who do their banking online, but fraudsters will use any cellphone number they can find. If you own a checking account and a cellphone, you are a candidate for a smishing scam.

Recognizing smishing scams
Heartland and/or its card security partner will text you if there is a risk associated with your card. The number displayed is 877-230-3179. If there is no response, you will receive a voice message. It’s important if you receive one of these communications that you respond. It’s become a very effective risk tool on member debit and credit cards. If you receive a text or phone call from a number other than 877-2303179, be wary and careful.

NOTE: Soon, you’ll be able to text Heartland lending and call center associates. We’ll make sure to post their numbers on our website in a place where you can quickly check to verify incoming texts.

If you’ve been targeted
If you receive a suspicious-looking text, do not engage the texter. Jot down the scammer’s number and delete the message. Let us know about the smishing attempt, tell all your friends and alert the FTC.

If you’ve fallen for the scam and your accounts have been compromised, alert your credit card companies and be sure to let Heartland know, too.

Protecting yourself
1. Always use at least two-factor authentication for credit union/banking apps and sites. Heartland’s mobile app uses three-factor authentication including biometrics. Use it … it’s a great tool!
2. Use strong and different passwords across your accounts and apps and CHANGE them on a regular basis. (We heard that sigh. Really … change your passwords!)
3. Ignore all text messages from unknown numbers.

Are you ready to change?

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